One characteristic of my relationship with a Borderline Waif that I didn’t catch on to until after the breakup, was the push-pull dynamic of the relationship. It wasn’t until I began reading about Borderline Personality Disorder that the pieces began to fall into place.
What is Push-Pull?
When in a relationship with a waif, or most any Borderline, you will most likely feel a constant ebb and flow. At times you will as though you and your BPD partner are intimately connected and very close. Then, often very abruptly, you will be left feeling a cold distance between you. This coming closer and running away is the push-pull dynamic that is so common in a relationship with a Borderline disordered partner.
Why does she do this? Why one moment does she act as if she loves me, then she treats me so coldly?
The push-pull dynamic can be attributed to the Borderline’s deep-rooted fear of abandonment. You may have noticed that after a period of intense, deep connection, your Borderline partner quickly distances herself from you. Why would she do this? This reaction by the Borderline works on a subconscious level; it is a reaction of self-preservation or protection.
The Borderline’s ultimate fear is abandonment. To your Borderline partner, the thought of you abandoning them, is unbearable. You must, however, understand that this really is not about you at all, you are merely a fill-in playing the role of the parent who once abandoned (or was perceived to have abandoned) the Borderline.
As your Borderline partner gets closer and more intimately connected with you, this overwhelming fear of abandonment is triggered in them. The retreat from you to protect themselves. This is a protection mechanism they most likely learned very young. They are so afraid of being hurt that they withdraw from the intimacy.
How it makes the Non-BPD feel…
When our Borderline partner pulls away from us so abruptly, we are left wondering what it is that we did wrong. What could we have done to have caused them to pull away from us? Did we do something to anger them? This is a natural reaction for the non-BPD. Unfortunately, your reaction is NOT correct because you are dealing with a disordered person.
Too often we are quick to blame ourselves under these circumstances. You must keep in mind that you are not the cause of your partner’s withdraw and disconnect. The push-pull dynamic of these relationships is often one of the most confusing and difficult aspects to overcome, but we must remember that the cause of our partner’s disconnect is Borderline Personality Disorder, not us.